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8/3/2007
03:35 PM
Jon Toigo
Jon Toigo
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Is Time Ripe For Electronic Content Management?

FileTek execs are banking on green computing, compliance woes to goose ECM market.

Despite hype, the electronic content management market has yet to take off. To understand why, we went to the experts.

Bill Thompson, founder and chairman of the board at FileTek, a privately held vendor of data management products, recently assigned operational leadership of his company to CEO Bill Loomis and brought in Wall Street-savvy storage industry veteran Phil Pascarelli as president. Loomis and Pascarelli are tasked with getting FileTek and its products ready for the future.

We caught up with them to get insight into the evolution of document management and whether the paperless office will ever become reality.

Electronic content management, or ECM, represents the largest software growth segment, Thompson says, adding that Web 2.0 technologies are changing how documents are exchanged, used, and distributed.

All well and good, but despite hype from Gartner and others, at least one Wall Street analyst described the ECM market as "lumpy" to account for lower-than-expected revenue from EMC's Documentum ECM offering. What's holding up the show?

"The market definitely hasn't achieved its potential because of a couple of key factors," Loomis says. "One is that the historic lack of name-brand players in this market has kept it 'nichey' at best." But that's changing. "Household names such as IBM, EMC, Oracle, and, perhaps most importantly, Microsoft are making significant investments into the ECM market," he says, citing Microsoft's SharePoint ECM offering.

The second key hurdle to ECM's reaching its potential is the cumbersome, complex nature of most systems and attendant high total cost of ownership.

"Combine the license cost associated with most solutions and the cost to operate some ECM products on an ongoing basis, and you can see what's keeping the technology from being deployed by the masses," Loomis says.

Pascarelli promises that a new wave of ECM systems entering the market today from companies including FileTek will change this.

He's also seeing green.

"While data center greening hasn't really become a play in this software sector yet, the reduction of information and content in various formats that are moved into digital storage" shows what ECM can offer green initiatives, he says. "We've not yet experienced this as a part of our customer conversations, but we're willing to bet it will introduce itself at the higher ends of the market first, where the green savings will be most significant."

Then there's compliance, corporate governance, and risk mitigation as data management drivers.

"Many organizations are concerned," Pascarelli says. "The risk associated with documents floating around the network or through the infrastructure uncontrolled or unmonitored can leave huge gaps."

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